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Kyra Sedgwick, Ensemble Cast Continue to Bring it Home on ‘The Closer’

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HollywoodChicago.com Television Rating: 3.5/5.0
Television Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGOTNT’s “The Closer” has an easy-going charm that rarely gets the critical praise it deserves but has turned the show into one of the most highly rated scripted program on basic cable. “The Closer” beats most network programs and is, cable or not, one of the bigger hits on TV. The mid-season premiere, “Good Faith,” airing Monday, January 26th, 2009, makes it easy to see why.

Fritz and Brenda Leigh share a moment
Fritz and Brenda Leigh share a moment
Photo credit: Alan Markfeld

What separates “The Closer” from a lot of similar programming is the ease with which the writers smoothly segue between family humor and grisly murder. The kind of tonal juggling that can make a wedding cake tasting at a precinct while they discuss the latest case both believable and humorous is harder to pull off than it looks.

Brenda Leigh interviews Beth Gibson as Lt. Provenza and Det. Daniels look on
Brenda Leigh interviews Beth Gibson as Lt. Provenza and Det. Daniels look on
Photo credit: Alan Markfeld

“The Closer” is a program about a woman who can read and predict human behavior, a detective, and it’s a better-than-average crime drama because its creators work to create believable human behavior themselves. And it doesn’t hurt to have one of the best actresses on television in your lead role.

Kyra Sedgwick is simply perfect and her supporting cast, particularly the great J.K. Simmons and G.W. Bailey, never miss a beat. Sedgwick will always be the face of the show. Bailey himself once told me that the series will end when she wants it to. But the value of a supporting ensemble on a show like “The Closer” can sometimes be under-valued. Everyone on the show is good.

Having made my critical respect for the ensemble of “The Closer” and the skilled tone shifts by the writers, the mid-season premiere suffers from the same problem I usually have with the series. What holds it back from jumping from a nice diversion when I happen to catch it to appointment programming is the lack of intriguing mysteries. I rarely find the actual crimes and their resolutions as intriguing as, say, the ones on “The Mentalist,” “Bones,” or “Life”. The characters on “The Closer” are fantastic, the mysteries are so-so.

The mid-season premiere, “Good Faith,” is another episode about Brenda juggling a personal life - this time getting ready for a marriage - with solving a new case, a suicide that doesn’t add up. The Medical Examiner believes it’s a cut-and-dry suicide but Brenda and her team know better. In another case of bad timing, Brenda’s hysterical parents continue to take her away from the case as they try to plan their daughter’s wedding.

The mystery is never that interesting and the ending is abrupt. Far more interesting is a shocking and painful personal twist in Brenda’s life. “The Closer” needs to work to make the cases in Brenda’s life as interesting as the character herself.

Well, to be fair, “The Closer” doesn’t need to do anything. They’re doing everything right for legions of fans. I think there’s still room for the show to go from good to great, but it’s hard to even find series as consistently entertaining as this one. And nothing has changed significantly between last summer and the mid-season premiere. No, the only bad news we have for fans is that there are only six episodes left in the fourth season.

‘The Closer,’ which airs on TNT, stars Kyra Sedgwick, Jon Tenney, J.K. Simmons, G.W. Bailey, Robert Gossett, Anthony John Denison, Michael Paul Chan, and Raymond Cruz. The mid-season premiere airs on Monday, January 26th, 2009 at 8PM CST.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

Quentin Allen's picture

Kyra Sedgwick and supporting cast

Closer is a fabulous but fragile drama, interesting and seductive but architecturally defective, and is on the wane.
This is disillusioning, depressing and one can only hope that taking a formulaic approach to writing will not persist but enable the most excellent cast to grow into deeper and more intriguing plot lines.

Kyra Sedgwick, Jon Tenney, J.K. Simmons, G.W. Bailey, Robert Gossett, Anthony John Denison, Michael Paul Chan, and Raymond Cruz (copied from above) are all wonderful, reciprocating parts feeding off each other in the most delicious way.

As always, it is the written word which enervates. We need less “budget” stress and better forensic depth. But, what we need most, is Kyra and her valiant and wonderfully talented colleagues to continue entertaining us.

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